The West Since the Cold War
Since the liberation of Europe’s Soviet Bloc in 1989 and the demise in 1991 of the Soviet Union itself, the West has become so pathetic that one might be forgiven for having a little wistful nostalgia for the Cold War era. At least back then, thirty years ago, Pakistan and North Korea didn’t have the bomb, China didn’t have an economy so huge that it threatened to eclipse America’s, and Europe hadn’t been invaded by millions of unassimilable Muslims allowed to just walk in.
When the Soviet Union broke up, the West had an historic opportunity to try to export freedom to Russia and make the world a better place. But we were told that the Cold War had ended and that the West had won, and that communism was dead. Some even said it was the “end of history.”
The West was deluding itself. The need of some individuals to control others and the meek acceptance of it by those being controlled may well be genetic. The idea that the gene for tyranny or oppression might have died is like thinking rudeness (or even sin) could be eradicated. The socialist authoritarianism of the Soviets didn’t end with the end of the Cold War; it regrouped, adapted, and waited.
American conservatives may be heartened by Britain’s vote to leave the socialist European Union, but have the Brits really come to their senses? Huge swaths of them still want socialism, which was recently given evidence by Oliver Wiseman, the editor of CapX. On May 11 in The Weekly Standard, Wiseman tells us about a looming threat to the U.K. in “Old Labour, Old Danger”:
Before Jeremy Corbyn was unexpectedly elected Labour leader in 2015, he led a career of far-left obscurity, catching the attention of the public now and then only thanks to his support for Hamas, Hugo Chávez, and anyone lined up on his side in what he sees as a global battle against capitalism and the West. Three years later, he is the bookmakers’ favorite to be Britain’s next leader.
But according to Wiseman, Corbyn isn’t the main threat to Britain’s future, it’s Corbyn’s fellow Marxist John McDonnell, “shadow chancellor of the exchequer,” who would take over the British economy were Corbyn to become prime minister. Wiseman writes: “It is just possible that the real drag on the British economy isn’t Brexit, but the Marxists waiting in the wings”:
According to a recent profile in the Financial Times, the members of a trade union book club that McDonnell ran in the early 1980s used to joke that he prescribed the same book every week: Das Kapital. In 2006, he said that the biggest influences on his thought were “The fundamental Marxist writers of Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky, basically.” In 2013, speaking about the financial crisis, he said, “I’m honest with people: I’m a Marxist. This is a classic crisis of the economy -- a classic capitalist crisis. I’ve been waiting for this for a generation... [For] Christ’s sake don’t waste it.” The man who could soon be in charge of the British economy is someone who sees a recession not as a time to limit economic damage, but as a chance for revolution.
One takeaway from Wiseman’s fine article is that the British people have been corrupted; they want their Big Government handouts. Wiseman reports that a majority actually support “Labour’s flagship economic policy of renationalization of utilities and the railways.” The British people may be too addled to grasp that their problems were not caused by capitalism but by the socialism they’ve had going back to Clement Attlee. Britain’s National Health Service wasn’t some creation of “rapacious” capitalists. Churchill and Thatcher couldn’t steer the U.K. completely away from socialism, because the citizenry was already hooked on “free stuff.”
I found that profile of McDonnell at the Financial Times Wiseman referred to; it’s a bit long but quite worth reading. But know that the FT gives nonsubscribers one free read only; if you leave the webpage and attempt to return you’ll be kept out. So you might want to print it or save it as a PDF right away. The print button is on Jim Pickard’s byline. The profile appeared on March 1 (italics added):
McDonnell believes he is on the brink of making history, should the government collapse because of Brexit. “Our objectives are socialist. That means an irreversible shift in the balance of power and wealth in favour of working people,” he explains. “When we go into government, everyone will be in government.”
Or, as Mussolini once said, “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” McDonnell is also inspired by the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, who cleaved to a belief in cultural hegemony whereby socialism would triumph by infiltrating education, the media, and even the church.
Throughout the West, the Left has taken over the “commanding heights” of the culture. We see fatuous Hollywood actors consorting with foreign tyrants in their socialist paradises. Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders is “way cool,” and revered by maleducated young people. Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may soon be a member of Congress. Thirty years after the end of the Cold War a new front has opened in the Eternal War between freedom and oppression, and it’s internal.
On June 30, National Review ran “Slavoj Žižek, Fashionable Revolutionary,” a fine article by Christian Alejandro Gonzalez. Žižek is a Marxist flunky straight out of central casting, and he’s on the payroll of British and American universities. (Perhaps “academic freedom” has gone a bit too far):
“Our task today,” Žižek writes… “is to reinvent emancipatory terror.” One cannot achieve true liberation without wanton violence… we must decide: Should we embrace “revolutionary-democratic terror?”…
During the moment of revolutionary fervor, passivity is tantamount to complicity with the forces of reaction. Anyone who does not participate in the terror is fit for elimination… Those unwilling to inflict slaughter on behalf of revolution are “sensitive liberals”…
[W]hat makes the Žižek phenomenon truly remarkable is not that he openly advocates the mass murder of civilians, not that he is taken seriously by the Western academic establishment… It is, rather, that the terror he endorses is ultimately nihilistic… Seduced by the aesthetics of revolution rather than committed to a serious pursuit of justice, Žižek’s philosophy collapses under the weight of its incoherence.
In John le Carré’s 1974 Cold War novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the British Secret Service has a double agent at the very top. In the 2011 adaptation for cinema, many liberties were taken with the novel. Even so, that wasn’t enough to keep the author from appearing in a singing of the Soviet national anthem, (he’s the elderly guy on the right who stands as the anthem begins; video excerpt). One of the changes was this bit of added dialog which occurs after the mole has been brought to ground and is waiting to be sent to the USSR in a spy swap: “I had to pick a side, George. It was an aesthetic choice as much as a moral one. And the West has grown so very… ugly, don’t you think?”
But the West was rather handsome thirty years ago before the end of the Cold War. Although he may be adept at dialectics, le Carré’s traitor to the West understands very little about aesthetics and even less about morality; he’s even more deluded than those he betrayed.
If the West is indeed growing ugly, perhaps it’s because we’re becoming like the East; perhaps it’s because we give vile clowns employment at our universities. Perhaps our growing ugliness is the result of throwing in with awful ideas, like socialism. The West needs to get back to being the West.
Jon N. Hall of ULTRACON OPINION is a programmer from Kansas City.